TO: Montana Board of Regents

FROM: Joyce A. Scott, Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs

RE: Gear Up Scholarships

DATE: December 29, 1999


In September, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education was awarded funding for Montana Gear Up at approximately $11.8 million. A major portion of the Gear Up funding is earmarked for scholarships for students from targeted populations. To fulfill Gear Up scholarship requirements, the Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program (MGSLP) has introduced two initiatives.

First, MGSLP is awarding Gear Up scholarships for to up to $3500 per year. The scholarships are renewable for three years if the student maintains satisfactory academic progress as determined by the institution's policies. These scholarships are awarded to students who have met the following criteria:

  • successfully completed a Montana Trio program;
  •  graduated from high school; 
  • demonstrated need; 
  • received a recommendation from their TRIO counselor; and 
  • demonstrated ability to succeed in college, meaning two- and four-year education at all accredited public, tribal, or private not-for-profit institutions in Montana.

Because there are no state public funds involved in the scholarships, students attending the three sectarian schools in Montana are also eligible. To date, 29 scholarships have been awarded, 11 are pending, and there are 20 new applications to be reviewed in January.

Second, an endowment will be established to replace the scholarships provided by federal funds over the five-year life of the Gear Up project. The scholarships created from the endowment will be awarded to eligible Gear Up participants, who are currently seventh graders, when they reach college age. Although we expect to solicit support from corporations and private donors, we could accommodate the contribution of state public funds by restricting their use to students attending eligible public institutions. Eligibility requirements for students under the endowed scholarship program will reflect those outlined above, and scholarships will be awarded through a competitive process.

Arlene Hannawalt, Director of Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program, chairs a committee composed of representatives from OCHE, the Office of Public Instruction, and the two universities. This group has reviewed current applications and will develop the endowment scholarship criteria and the competitive process. It is hoped that the endowment will provide sufficient funding that 70 to 120 scholarships may be awarded annually.


pc:       Commissioner Richard Crofts

Arlene Hannawalt

Associate Commissioner Rod Sundsted